Tech will join up the housing market
Ishaan Malhi is chief executive and founder of Trussle
Technology is causing the world to evolve at an exponential rate, removing barriers in almost every industry. This is having a profound effect on our day-to-day lives; simple tasks such as booking a flight, reserving accommodation, and ordering food can all now be done with just a few taps of your phone. Unsurprisingly, we’re all quickly growing accustomed to this ease of use and increasingly expect every customer experience to be instant and on-demand, from opening a bank account to getting a mortgage.
Innovators and entrepreneurs are responding to these new customer demands and in the property sector we’re in the midst of a revolution. More effective use of technology has cut the mortgage application process down from months to days, and taking the entire process online has made the experience more accessible to the time and cost-conscious. But this is just the beginning – soon the entire process of buying a home will become one seamless online journey.
The aspiration of buying a home remains strong. Despite rising costs, more than 335,000 people stepped foot on the property ladder in 2016, the highest total in a decade. In January, we also saw the highest level of mortgage lending activity for the month since 2007. We may be facing a housing crisis caused by under-supply, but there are still well over a million property transactions every year and this latest generation of buyers are coming to expect a very different kind of experience.
A staggering 98% of house-hunters now start their property search online through websites such as Zoopla and Rightmove, usually from the comfort of their own home. Now thanks to our partnership with Zoopla it’s possible for them to find out in minutes whether they’re able to afford a mortgage. And the same Zoopla user can also use the service of another partner, Noddle, to gain the necessary credit report for the process. As a result, the once detached stages of finding and financing a home have become one single journey, like a baton passing from one relay runner to another.
There are however still far more dots to be joined, and further proptech partnerships could pave the way for this fusion. Just last month, Zoopla acquired Hometrack – a property insight and data website – opening up the possibility that the often-frustrating valuation process will become part of this seamless journey, making it faster and cheaper still. Valuations can involve weeks of waiting for a booking and coordinating with time off work, sometimes derailing the whole mortgage process. Start-ups such as Nested are already addressing this issue, while others such as When You Move are simultaneously tackling the often-painful conveyancing process.
We have to expect that in the coming years you’ll be able to arrange a solicitor, book a surveyor, and conduct all aspects of the homebuying process from your mobile on a Sunday afternoon. And there’s no reason to think this can’t go a step further, either – who’s to say that the same homebuyer won’t be able to begin decorating their new house as part of that same journey? The stressful days of buying a home will soon be a thing of the past.